Widening our Vision (WoV)
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28
Hello! The purpose of this communication is to share information about an initiative for our church to deepen and expand our welcome to people of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions by formally adopting a statement of welcome and declaring our church an Open and Affirming community.
Our congregation voted to permit same gender marriage ceremonies in the church in 2010, but that is not the same thing as being an Open and Affirming Church. The General Synod of the United Church of Christ has been “Calling on United Church of Christ Congregations to Declare Themselves Open and Affirming” since 1985.
Our Church Council voted to sanction the formation of an Open and Affirming Ministry Team in March 2021. In the past 20 years in New Hampshire, more than 50 UCC-affiliated churches have elected to declare themselves Open and Affirming.
What, Exactly, is Open and Affirming?
Open and Affirming (often abbreviated as “ONA”) is a specific designation of the United Church of Christ for congregations that have made a public covenant, and declaration of welcome into their full life and ministry, to persons of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions. The ONA designation reflects a history of faithful witness for LGBTQ rights within the UCC, including the Open and Affirming action of the General Synod in 1985, and the Transgender action of the General Synod in 2003. It reflects a spirit of hospitality, a commitment to full inclusion and human rights, and a willingness to live out that welcome in meaningful ways. It is consistent with the Welcome pillar of our strategic plan.
We hope in the future that the Congregation will vote to adopt a Welcoming Statement and declare our Church as Open and Affirming and in the long term, we hope that our church will maintain ongoing education and relationship-building as we continue to learn and discover what it means to be a Welcoming Congregation for people of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions. Our church’s Open and Affirming ministry team believes that we can all benefit from widening our vision to include as many of God’s children as possible. We believe in that so strongly that we now go by the name Widening our Vision (WOV).
The WOV team asks you to please pray on this and look to future Chimes for question-and-answer articles on this subject. If you would like to reach out to us directly, please do! WOV@hollischurch.org
Email WOV@hollischurch.org with questions or comments